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One hit too many against Suns

April 16, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

After Wednesday, even that cheesy smile on the Hagerstown Suns' emblem turned to a bitter beer face.

It was a game that was the worst possible medicine for the Suns, a team that has been struggling to hit and score runs. It was like castor oil.

But there it was in the cryptic lights on the Municipal Stadium scoreboard. The visitors - the Lakewood BlueClaws - had three runs on one hit while committing five errors ... and it was good enough for a 3-2 win over Hagerstown.

"A team gets one hit, commits five errors and wins ... That's kind of tough to swallow," Hagerstown manager Mike Ramsey said. "But we have to swallow it."

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Lakewood's only hit was a three-run double to the left field wall by Mark McRoberts in the third inning off Hagerstown starter Daniel Portorreal (1-2). Portorreal spent the evening tip-toeing through his own personal minefield, walking eight batters in 2 2/3 innings of work before McRoberts' hit chased him.

"Portorreal was missing (low) all game and wasn't able to make the adjustment," Ramsey said. "Then he started to try and guide the ball over the plate. He just didn't have it. The third inning just got us. You can't walk eight in 2 2/3 innings. It is going to jump up and bite you eventually."

It was even tougher for the Suns, who got less out of their five hits than Lakewood got out of their one.

Hagerstown (5-6) loaded the bases with none out on consecutive hits by Jason Columbus, Derin McMains and Carlos Sosa off Lakewood starter Vinnie DeChristofaro. The Suns only managed one run, though, but it came when DeChristofaro bounced a pickoff throw off Sosa's back for an error.

Hagerstown allowed the big threat to get away like a hot-air balloon with three consecutive popups.

"We had one big chance with runners on second and third with no one out and we weren't able to move the runners around," Ramsey said. "We had our chances to score and didn't get it done."

After Lakewood erased the Suns' lead in the third, Hagerstown inched closer on Aaron Hornostaj's one-out triple to left before scoring on Kevin Kelly's grounder to move within 3-2.

Ramsey turned the game over to the bullpen. The contingent of Juan Serrato, Jason Waddell and Matt Palmer combined to pitch 6 1/3 hitless innings while striking out seven to keep Hagerstown one swing away from tying the game.

"The bullpen did a fine job," Ramsey said. "It's been doing fine since the beginning of the year with the exception of a couple of the games with Lexington."

The offense didn't oblige though, going down in order in four of the final six innings and hitting into two double plays. Only Randy Walter in the seventh and McMains in the ninth managed hits in the final two-thirds of the game.

Francisco Butto (1-0) came in to pitch the final five innings for Lakewood, allowing only the two hits with five strikeouts.

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